The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from DaVena Jordan, Queen Bee and Executive Director of one of the most meaningful youth outreach programs in the region, AWOL (All Walks of Life). Read on as DaVena pulls back the veil on a secret power within each of us…
A simple enough word, but in today’s high tech world of text messages, cloud storage, wikis and status posts, our ability to “converse” with one another in person is often limited to 40 characters or less.
I recently stopped by my favorite local coffee shop, the Sentient Bean, and saw my friend Tom Kohler sitting at his “desk” (if you know Tom, you know the Bean is his community office). Not to disturb him, I simply grabbed a quick hug and said hello as I was jetting out the door. Tom, of course, obliged me with his usual warm greeting and said through his great big smile, “it’s great to actually see you, and not just on Facebook!”
Tom’s words made me think about this new world we live in.
If you are friends with myself or Tony on FB, it’s no secret that social media is our way of staying connected to the community and allowing people to get a little daily glimpse into who we are and what we do. But as Tom said, it’s really nice to come from behind the touch screens, ipads, and other devices sometimes to see the actual beauty of the world we live in. Savannah is a creative city, constantly buzzing with things to do, events to attend and people to converse with, both young and the more seasoned vets.
AWOL’s annual theater production this year has been dubbed Conversations. The play focuses on how simple conversations throughout our lifetimes can have profound effects on our lives.
This year’s show also uses the works of famed American poet Langston Hughes to help weave together a story of triumphs and life lessons learned. From the simple hellos as we pass by, to the more intense conversations we have about community, the economy and public safety, our daily interactions with each other are important.
AWOL prides itself on being a program that provides consistent interaction with youth, for periods of 12-24 months, and in some cases 48 months and beyond. Whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, text messages, or face-to-face, the task of improving outcomes for our young people hinges upon our ability to simply share our life experiences, good and bad, with them.
At this point in my career I have had the pleasure of having hundreds of conversations with young people, all in an effort to help inspire them to dream bigger and look beyond their current life situation. All too often we are troubled by what we see in the media concerning youth. So many questions are raised and fingers pointed at education systems, justice system, social systems, etc., but getting kids to do the right thing is not as complicated as one might think. It simply takes a strong commitment to a very old school of practice of pulling a kid aside and just telling them what they should or should not be doing.
It takes all us having continuous and ongoing conversations with kids, whether as their mentor, parent, teacher or friend. Quite simply, kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I think back to all the adults in my life that sat me down to talk, and how often as a teen I truly thought by rolling my eyes, sitting silently, I could make this conversation hurry along and not be affected by it. But every one of those conversations has stuck with me and contributed to who I have become as an adult. Moreover, I can’t tell you how many times I have passed along those nuggets of wisdom to young people in this community.
So I leave you with this final thought: perhaps you can’t find a kid to mentor at this very moment, but what you can do is come out to the show Conversations next weekend (Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16) and see just what the AWOL All Walks Of Life youth program is all about. Reserve your tickets today: AWOL Conversations Tickets !
Here’s to hoping your next conversation inspires something great in your life, or the life of others.